OCTOBER 15, 2014
Given the indefinite closure of schools in the country due to the Ebola outbreak,UNICEF and other education development partners are supporting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology with the recent launching of radio teaching programmes for school children.
The “school in a radio” programme targets over 1.7 million school children from pre-primary, primary, junior and senior secondary levels in every district across the country. Lessons on normal school subjects such as English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Physical and Health Education, psychosocial/life skills, hygiene and hand washing (which could include basic information on Ebola), and others, are being developed by professional teachers and delivered to the pupils in their homes through a network of 41 radio stations across the country coordinated by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Independent Radio Network (IRN).
“Although Ebola has disrupted the school system, we must not allow it to disrupt the continuous mental development of school children even if they are not going to school,” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone. “That is why this school in a radio programme is important as it could serve as an effective tool to keep children academically engaged and focused in the midst of this adversity.”
The radio programmes are already gaining momentum and popularity especially among concerned parents and pupils who struggle to adapt to the school closures.
Amidu, a school-going teenager in one of the secondary schools in Freetown, said: “I find the teaching radio programme very interesting and informative and I also want vocational studies like clothing and textiles to be added to it so that practical subjects can be included into the non-practical ones.”
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, UNICEF and education development partners are looking at the possibility of distributing solar powered radios to school children in less privileged homes and communities so that they are not left out and can constantly be engaged.
“Ebola cannot stop our children from learning and that is why we have come up with this initiative to ensure continuous learning to keep them busy and minimize the likelihood of social vices such as teenage pregnancy,” said Dr. Minkailu Bah, Minister of Education, Science and Technology. “We will make sure that no child is left out.”
The radio programmes are part of an initial three-month trial but many parents have found it interesting and expressed desire for it to continue to include television.